Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Most of us who are Boomers can remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when it was announced that, tragically, Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated. While I was just a young child at the time, I do remember how devastated people were by the news. Yet, inspired by MLK’s dream for a better world, people continued to fight for equal rights for blacks and all people of colour. If the horrific events of the last couple of years have anything to teach us, it is that now more than ever we must renew our resolve to work for justice for everyone who suffers from discrimination, whether it be because of the colour of their skin, their race or religion, their gender or sexual orientation, their age or differing abilities, their economic or social class.
As Boomers and older adults we still have a role to play in this fight. We can act as witnesses to the powerful legacy that Martin Luther King Jr. left us. We can share our stories with the young people in our lives. We can read aloud his “I Have a Dream” speech and invite them to consider how together we can carry on the work of this great man.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said: “We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity.”
Now in the second half of life, many of us are in a unique position to give back to our churches and our communities. If MLK were among us he would be the first to remind us that there is something more important than bread and cars and air-conditioned rooms and that the world needs us. It is never too late to think about what our legacy will be to the generations that follow us. Not sure where you can best serve? Check out Volunteer Canada. In London, Ontario, you can also check out Volunteer London. But wherever you live, you can find information from your local municipality about the various organisations that desperately need your help. Don’t forget that churches and faith communities need good volunteers as well, as does your local school.
Remember: You can make a difference. Why not honour the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. and start today!